A Practical Approach to Establishing and Maintaining A Values-Based Conflicts of Interest Compliance System
The Tail Wagging the Dog HONEST OFFICIALS Corrupt Officials
Effect of a Conflicts of Interest System Despite instances of corruption and conflicts of interest (which we will always have), an effective conflicts of interest system can help convince the public and public officials that their government is inherently honest.
“Conflict of Interest” = • Divided loyalty • A conflict, usually (though not always) • a financial conflict, • between one’s private interests • and public duty
Purpose of a conflicts of interest system To promote both the reality and the perception of integrity in government by preventing conflicts of interest before they occur
Fundamental Principles A conflicts of interest system • Promotes both the reality and the perception of integrity in government • Focuses on prevention, not punishment • Is not intended to catch crooks but instead recognizes the • inherent honesty of public officials • Does not regulate morality (in most countries) • Does not focus on efficiency but saves the government money • Requires that the public have a stake in the system • Must be tailored to the particular nation, society, and culture • Must undergird the essential values of the nation
Rules Values Rule “A public official shall not accept a gift from any person or firm doing business with the government.” Value “Public officials shall place the interest of the public before themselves.”
D I S C L O S U R E A D M I N I S T R A T I O N C O D E
A D M I N I S T R A T I O N C O D E
Conflicts of Interest Code: Possible Provisions • Using one’s government office for private gain • Using government resources for private purposes • Soliciting gifts or accepting gifts from persons doing business with the government • Seeking or accepting private compensation for doing one’s government job (gratuities) • Soliciting political contributions or political activity from subordinates or from those with whom one deals as part of one’s government job (except as expressly permitted by law) • Disclosing confidential government information or using that information for a private purpose
Appearing before government agencies on behalf of private interests or representing private interests in government matters • Seeking a job from a private person or firm with which one is dealing in one’s government job • After leaving government service, • Appearing on behalf of a private employer before one’s former government agency or • Working on a matter on behalf of a private employer that one worked on while in government service • Inducing other government officials to violate the conflicts of interest code
Annual Disclosure (Asset Declaration) Prevents Conflicts of Interest By • Focusing the attention of officials at least once each year on where their potential conflicts of interest lie • Letting everyone know what the official's private interests are • Providing a “check” on transactional disclosure by revealing if the filer is making required transactional disclosures and recusals
Touchstones of an Independent Board • Qualified and independent board members • Budget protection - a guaranteed budget • A staff accountable only to the board • The unique power to authoritatively interpret the conflicts of interest code, subject to review only by the courts
Training Principles and Methods • Mandatory training for all public officials • “Train the trainers” in each department • Videotape/DVD • Interactive web-based computer training program • Live training classes for those at risk • Training for government vendors and contractors • Tailored to particular agency and type of official • Fun (or at least interesting) • Popular culture – cartoons, picture novels, anime • Poster in every worksite • Leaflets on specific topics • Bookmark with paychecks • Short radio or television commercials • Create not experts but public servants who are sensitive to conflicts of interest issues
Purposes of Enforcement • To educate officials about the requirements of the conflicts of interest code • To show officials and the public that the government is serious about the conflicts of interest law • To punish conflicts of interest and discourage other officials from committing them (deterrence)
Conclusion A values-based conflicts of interest compliance system grounded upon a code of ethics and based upon the three pillars of a comprehensive conflicts of interest code, sensible disclosure, and effective administration promotes both the reality and the perception of integrity in government by preventing conflicts of interest before they occur, guiding our honest public servants, reassuring our citizens, and reinforcing the core values upon which the government is founded.